The Ivy League’s Secret “Academic Index” for Recruiting

The Ivy League’s Secret “Academic Index” for Recruiting

Club coaches, high school coaches, and even college coaches will all tell players that great athletic ability can help get an athlete through admissions at a college where he/she wouldn’t normally have a good chance at getting accepted.

Would Michael Ohr, of The Blind Side fame, have been accepted to Ole’ Miss without football?  Maybe, but probably not. Sports can help open the door to colleges where the doors would normally be closed. But how much help from top academic schools can soccer players expect?

The academic pinnacle for many ambitious high school students is the Ivy League. Athletes with decent academic resumes may think that their athletics can help with admissions, but most families are unaware of the Ivy League’s secretive “Academic Index” for athletic recruiting.

Athletic coaches at Ivy League institutions are bound by the Academic Index (AI).  A student’s AI is calculated by using the SAT or ACT, the top two SAT Subject Tests, and the athlete’s GPA or class rank. The Academic Index is not used for general admissions, but each school will calculate the mean AI for all admitted non-athletes, then use that number to calculate the AI that recruits will need.  The AI can range from 60 to 240, and Ivy League schools usually require all recruits to have a minimum AI of 176. If a soccer player has an AI below 176, there is almost no chance the coach will be able to help that player through admissions.

HERE is a calculator you can use to estimate your own AI.

All eight Ivies field both men’s and women’s soccer teams. Each coach will know the AI he/she requires for recruits.  As a general guide, to achieve that minimum AI of 176, a recruit would need an un-weighted GPA of around 3.4, an 1100 on the SAT (math & reading), and a 510 on two different SAT subject tests.  This is the MINIMUM and should not be seen as the general requirements, because Ivy League soccer coaches are usually limited to only ONE recruit per year with a low (176) Academic Index.

The higher an athlete’s AI, the more the coach can help. A recruit who does not meet the normal academic requirements for the university but has an AI of at least 176 will be placed in one of the four “BANDS.”

Below are loose definitions of each AI Band and how many recruits the Ivy League schools allow soccer coaches to have every year. These are general guidelines. The Bands are different for every school and vary from year to year. Recruiting needs also vary from year to year, so these recruiting class sizes should be considered rare maximums.

  • Band 1: LOW-LOW. AI of 176 or just barely above. ONE recruit per recruiting class.
  • Band 2: LOW. AI that is 2-2.25 standard deviations below the mean AI achieved by non-athletes accepted into the school. THREE recruits per recruiting class
  • Band 3: MEDIUM. AI that is 1-2 standard deviations below the mean AI achieved by non-athletes accepted into the school. SIX recruits per recruiting class.
  • Band 4: HIGH. AI that is near but just under the mean AI achieved by non-athletes accepted into the school. FOUR recruits per recruiting class.

If you are a competitive soccer player with Ivy League goals, the best way you can help out an Ivy League coach is to have an AI that is at or above the average AI of non-athletes who get into the university. This takes planning and very strong academics.  Plan to take at least 3 SAT subject tests, and plan to take the SAT and/or ACT multiple times to achieve the highest scores you can.   If you know you have an Academic Index that the coach will like, be sure to include that in your email communication. He/she will be very excited about a player with an AI that will not be a struggle with admissions.

Also remember: All Ivy League schools are NCAA Division I, so you also need to have soccer skills that are good enough for Division I (USSDA, ECNL, top competitive non-academy leagues).

Now, stop reading stuff on the internet and get back to your Calculus homework!

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